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You can’t make everyone happy. Learn to know who matters.

You can’t be all things to all people. Some customers are going to love you, some are going to hate you.

You have to learn which customers matter. Some deliver high profits with low time/money cost. Some are more work, but they are strategically useful.

And some are going to eat up all your resources while you try to make them happy. And they’ll still never be happy.

The best book on this topic is from my favorite professor, Pete Fader from the Wharton School: Customer Centricity: What It Is, What It Isn’t, and Why It Matters.

We’ve all heard the legendary story of the Nordstrom clerk who accepted a return of tires (even though they don’t sell tires). Pete challenges the conventional wisdom that:

… the decision to take those tires back even though Nordstrom didn’t sell the tires in the first place — actually made any sense. In the realm of customer centricity, at least, it’s a question that can only be answered if one is given the right information—the kind of information that customer-centric companies use every single day to identify, serve, and leverage their best customers and maximize profits. Was the tire guy a regular Nordstrom shopper? If so, how often did he stop by—and how much did he spend? Was he really committed to Nordstrom? What was his business really worth? And if it turned out that business was worth a lot (or not much at all), well, what then? Accepting that bizarre return request may have been a good public relations decision, judged by the wisdom of hindsight. But it probably wasn’t a good business decision.

(More here)


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